Home > Free Electronic Resources, Legal Research > Dictionaries – word nerd fun continues: Everybody Researches

Dictionaries – word nerd fun continues: Everybody Researches

Words, like laws, are not static.  New words are unofficially being added to our vocabulary all the time and are considered “official” when added to an actual, publisher-edited dictionary. Many dictionaries send out annual updates to let the public know what are the newest official additions.  While the massive Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is one of the most, if not the most, highly regarded dictionary, the more concise Oxford American Dictionary (OAD) is also reliable and focuses on U.S. English.  The OAD releases a list of its recent additions in the fall, and the 2010 words have been official for almost a year.  If you enjoy word games, you might like to take a look at the list of words below to see if you know what they mean, and if you can correctly guess which ones have made the cut to becoming “real” words according to the new Oxford American Dictionary before checking your answers in this article from Vanity Fair introducing the OAD changes for 2010. If you are in a hurry,  just click-through to make sure that you are informed about what’s new in the U.S. vocabulary.

Which of these were included in the dictionary*?

  •  bromance,
  •  hater
  • chu doing
  • hockey mom
  • tramp stamp
  • hashtag
  •  truthiness
  • Snooki
  •  Tumblr
  •  the new black
  • green-collar
  •  Trig
  •  what’s not to like?
  •  share a moment
  •  blerg
  •  vuvuzela
  • GTL

Those more “experienced” staff members and professors, and any non-traditional students, should make sure that you know about the Urban Dictionary.  It is a particularly good idea to have it readily available if you have children and you would like to know if they are saying “sure, whatever” in teen-speak or if they are telling you to do something biologically impossible.  Like Wikipedia,  this “ultimate slang dictionary”  is authored by the public so some of the definitions can be coarse and vulgar.  If you are wondering if you really need to subject yourself to some of these words, consider the following: Do you think that PITA is someone with Caps Lock problems writing about  bread or perhaps an animal rights group?  If so, you might want to explore the Urban Dictionary.   While the Urban Dictionary can be very helpful for immediate slang edification, you need to keep in mind that anyone can submit a definition.  Therefore, you might want to read two or three options before using a word.  If you demand more reliability for you slang definition needs, you can consult The Dictionary of American Slang by Robert L. Chapman which is considered to be “the standard printed work for American slang.”

Even two blog posts cannot cover the myriad types of dictionaries available.  In law, there are many topic specific dictionaries for areas such as tax or environmental law.  To see what is available in our library visit Professor Johnson’s research guide  Legal Dictionaries and Thesauri .  There are also picture dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, dictionaries about cats, chocolate, and brain tumors, and even a dictionary of mountain bike slang; all of which are online.  To view these more unusual dictionaries visit the Free Dictionaries Project or browse the “dictionary” search results on OneLook.  With all the options out there, you are bound to find a dictionary that meets your particular needs.

* Two words that were not include in the article, GTL (did not make the cut) and green-collar (now an official word).

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  1. October 10, 2011 at 10:12 am

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